Reversals and the Drone War

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is slated to come out in November.  A not-so-futuristic story about drone warfare frames the game.  In this world, the principle concern is that “the enemy” will hack into the mobile drone army and turn the guns back on empire.  All of this talk about “cyberwar” (and the inevitable arguments in favor of internet surveillance, restrictions on expression, etc.)  seem to be coming to a head in this narrative.  It’s not just about terrorists shutting down the power grid anymore; it’s about losing control of the virtual robot army.



Alongside the usual game trailer (above), the game’s promoters have released a short video (called a “documentary”) that features Oliver North and Peter Singer.  North, of course, knows a lot about black ops and illegal military action.  He was, lest we forget, convicted on three felony counts.  Singer is a fellow at The Brookings Institution and wrote Wired For War about drones and robo-war in 2009.  These interviews give credence to the doomsday scenario: the future is dangerous, and humans can’t handle the power of the technology they have produced. The themes hearken to the ethical calls heard in the nuclear age.  This time, however, the same themes perfectly align with the goals of the game’s marketers: Doomsday is here.  The weapons are in your hands.  The war is in your backyard.  Isn’t it frightening?  Isn’t it fun?  Perhaps we will forget about Waziristan and the consequences of the real drone war.  Let’s do what we have always done and reimagine ourselves as the victims.



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